Game Balls & Goats: Patriots - Steelers

A bit late, but just as accurate. Here are last week's Game Balls and Goats from the Patriots 10-33 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

New England Patriots 10, Pittsburgh Steelers 33

GAME BALLS

Really, does anyone deserve one of these this week? That game was a beatdown in all aspects of the contest.

First half offense/defense -- Whatever the patriots were doing in the first half, they needed to continue in the second. Aside from the one blown opportunity -- a missed chip shot field goal attempt -- the Patriots had production with Matt Cassel spreading the ball around and Kevin Faulk changing things up with the run. Even Sammy Morris averaged 4.9 yards per carry in the first half.

Richard Seymour -- when he was in there, he was having a solid game.

The Fans -- Any fan that paid money to go sit in that weather to watch the game deserves a game ball. Those who stuck it out till the end (not the Steelers fans) deserve a medal.

GOATS

Offensive line -- There was a complete turnaround of their performance from the first half to the second. The running lanes closed quickly if there were any at all, and the pass protection fell apart. Matt Light was beaten badly, while the line in general had issues. Even when Cassel tried to get rid of the ball quickly there were breakdowns.

Coaching adjustments -- for a team that prides itself on making adjustments, the Patriots coaching staff must realize that they blew a golden opportunity to put it to the Steelers. 10-20 in the third quarter and they can't find a way to offset the Steelers pressure. It's not like they haven't seen the Steelers defense before. Bill Belichick, Dean Pees, Josh McDaniels and the rest of the staff will have plenty of time in the offseason to figure out what went wrong, as the Pats are now on the outside looking in.

Third down defense -- Whether it's schemes or execution or bad playcalling, the Patriots third down defense is horrid. Yes Horrid! They're the third worst defense in the league on third down (44%). They let opponents maintain drives which come back to bite them in the end. New England allowed the Steelers to convert 8 of 16 third downs (50%). The biggest culprit for their seasons' decline... third down defense.

Dishonorable Mentions: (too many to make them all goats)

Matt Slater -- With all the practice Matt has had returning kicks, to fumble away his first opportunity is a very bad sign. That's supposed to be his specialty. Now what does the team do with him?

Dropped Passes -- Randy Moss had one which woudl have been huge (TD). Despite teh weather, the receivers must catch the ball. This makes three games the Patriots lost which might have had a different outcome had the receivers held onto clutch passes.

Matt Cassel -- Ball control Matt. 5 sacks, 2 INTs and 2 Fumbles. Sure Cassel needs to get rid of the ball faster, but having a pocket awareness also helps. The weather may have been a factor, but Casssel's stock came crashign down on Sunday.

Agree/Disagree?

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